Members of The Garifuna Heritage Committee (TGHF) have called on the Government to use all efforts to preserve and protect the island of Balliceaux.
This call came from Christopher Grant, board member of TGHF, during the annual commemoration ceremony for national hero the Right Excellent Joseph Chatoyer at the Obelisk site in Dorsetshire on Tuesday.
âWe call on the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to use all efforts to preserve and protect the island of Balliceaux as a sacred heritage site for the use of future generations,â Grant said, much to appreciation of the audience.
He noted that TGHF will continue to support the Government and CARICOMâs call for reparations for native genocide.
Grant noted that it is the spirit and legacy of the Right Honourable Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer that continues to attract international interest in the âspirit of survivalâ.
âWe in The Garifuna Heritage Foundation believe that that spirit and the appreciation of what it meant to Chatoyerâs generation, is with us in our quest to continue to move St Vincent and the Grenadines forward. Our focus is on the next generation, the young people like myself, who will be the future leaders of this countryâ¦
ââ¦Young people, we must claim this spirit of Chatoyer as part of our national identity and use our creative energies to bring it to life in all spheres of our work,â Grant stated.
He said that TGHF have commenced work of developing an âI am Garifunaâ nationwide campaign, targeted at young persons who identify with the Garifuna heritage.
Grant stated that no longer can the Garifuna heritage be for certain persons, or communities in areas of the country, or in certain geographic areas.
During this yearâs National Heroesâ Month celebration TGHF hosted the third annual International Garifuna Summit, film screenings, an International Garifuna Conference, a Garifuna Village and Marketplace, International Garifuna Dance Festival and the third annual National Garifuna Festival for Schools.
The highlight of this yearâs activities was hosting the Chief Joseph Chatoyer Garifuna Folkloric Ballet Company from New York, a group comprising persons who originated from Guatemala, Honduras and Belize.
âFor all of them, this is their first visit to the ancestral homeland. Since their arrival at the Argyle International Airport on Thursday, March 9th, they have energized communities on the Leeward and Windward side and delivered an exciting performance at the Peace Memorial Hall,â he pointed out.
Grant noted that their one regret was not being able to visit Balliceux to pay respect to their ancestors who died there.
He noted that TGHF will continue their public education work to sensitize Vincentians about the unique heritage and significant contribution of the indigenous people to the development of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the world.
âTogether with our partners locally and internationally, all of us must continue to work to harvest the richness of this culture that was born here in St Vincent and the Grenadines and use it for the advancement of this nation,â Grant stated.